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Nederlog

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2017

Crisis: Black Budget, War, Snowden, Comey's Testimony, "Morning Joe", Trump's Sanity

Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Coming Soon: Trump’s Black Budget
2. Donald Trump Is Filling Top Pentagon and Homeland Security
     Positions With Defense Contractors

3.
Newly Obtained Documents Prove: Key Claim of Snowden’s
     Accusers Is a Fraud

4. Proof Comey's Testimony Is a Turning Point in Trump's
     Presidency

5. 'Morning Joe' Openly Calls on Republicans to Dump Trump
6. The Composite Trump: Some Notes Toward Understanding Our
     President's Level of Sanity

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary crisis log with six items and six dotted links: Item 1 is about Trump's budget for secret spying, and is interesting, although the budget hasn't arrived yet and will probably remain mostly a secret; item 2 is about Trump's expanding the military budget and homeland security programs with defense contractors, which I think is evidence he is preparing for war; item 3 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on Snowden that is good; item 4 is about how Comey's and Roger's testimonies hurt Trump (and may be seen as part of the efforts of the deep state to get rid of Trump); item 5 is about the TV-program "Morning Joe", which has a daughter of Brzezinski as co-host, that calls for dumping Trump; and item 6 is about an question of Kevin Drum that allows me to explain something about how diagnosing is done in psychiatry and psychology.
March 22: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site again stuck on Sunday last. If over a year of signs are correct, this means it will NOT be updated for at least another week.

Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Coming Soon: Trump’s Black Budget

The first article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

There was one $50 billion-plus item omitted from President Trump’s proposed federal budget last week: the National Intelligence Program, otherwise known as the U.S. government’s “black budget."

Trump’s black budget request will be sent to the House and Senate intelligence committee sometime in the coming weeks or months, under the bland name of “the Congressional Budget Justification for the National Intelligence Program,” according to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.

The secret document, likely to run to 100-plus pages, will outline the administration’s spending plans for the CIA, the NSA, and a host of other secret agencies in the coming year.

Incidentally, note that the title of this article started "Coming Soon": It has not arrived yet, and anyway is secret. But I agree it is quite important, simply because the NSA, the CIA and many more secret services have been secretly and illegally spying on everyone (anywhere) with a computer or a cell-phone since 2001.

Here is some more that makes it more interesting:

Trump's black budget request will also provide a reality test of the notion that Trump is at war with the “deep state.”

On the right, Newt Gingrich and Breitbart News depict the president under siege from a deep state, comprised of CIA and liberal bureaucrats. On the left, Glenn Greenwald sees a deep state, led by pro-Clinton CIA officials, at war with the elected government. In the political center, New Yorker editor David Remnick says, “there is no deep state,” just a responsible reaction to a "shallow" president with dubious ties to a foreign power.

Whatever terminology you prefer, the black budget is one of the few ways the public can quantify the resources commanded by the most secretive wing of what scholar Michael Glennon calls America’s “double government.”

I note that the deep state (part of which is presumed to do the spying) is not quite the same as the spying, and I also note that I do believe in some sort of deep state, and that for three basic reasons: (i) the basic idea is that of the military-industrial complex (<-Wikipedia) that was identified for the first time by president Eisenhower in 1961; (ii) there is nothing implausible or incredible about something like a - partial, secondary - government that operates behind the elected government, indeed rather like the military-industrial complex; while (iii) there is a good amount of evidence that there is something like a deep state in the USA, indeed ever since 1960 or so, and here are two sources, that were described by me on March 3, namely Mike Lofgren and Peter Dale Scott (whose ideas differ a little).

Also there have been quite a few, from different sides also, who have insisted that there is a fight going on between Trump and the deep state (which differs a bit in content depending on which side you are on, but which anyway contains the CIA).

The basic problem is that "the public" must pay the taxes which - somehow, secretly - fund the deep state, but is supposed to know nothing about the deep state or spying on themselves, also not if this spying amounts to secretly and illegally trying to read everyone's e-mails (as I think is admitted now is being done in the USA, except of course that the secret services deny they do it illegally).

Here is some more on the black budget:

The black budget is also one of the most potent tools available to the president to shape national security policy.

A crucial test will be how Trump’s black budget compares to President Obama’s. Last year, the Director of National Intelligence revealed that the spending for secret intelligence ran to $53.5 billion, a two percent increase over the $52.6 billion budget for fiscal 2013, which was made public by NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden

In 2013, a document leaked by Snowden showed that two-thirds of the black budget went to three agencies: CIA, NSA, and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which controls the government’s space satellites. Of these three, the CIA was easily the largest, commanding a $14.7 annual budget compared to $10.5 billion for NSA and $10.3 billion for NRO.

I'd guess myself that Trump's budget will be quite similar to Obama's, if only because Trump cannot radically cut the amounts of money that go to the deep state without great difficulties.

But this is a guess, and in fact no one (outside Trump and his cronies) knows:

In constant dollars, the 2017 intelligence black budget was about twice the estimated size of the 2001 budget, and 25 percent bigger than the 2006 budget, according to the Post.

So far nothing has leaked about Trump’s plans.

“To my knowledge, the administration has not yet disclosed any information about the intelligence budget request for FY 2018, said Steven Aftergood in an email to AlterNet. “But they are obliged by law to do so.”

We shall find out eventually, at least about the nominal size of the intelligence budget, but when this will happen is also not yet fixed.

This is a recommended article.

2. Donald Trump Is Filling Top Pentagon and Homeland Security Positions With Defense Contractors

The second article is by Lee Fang on The Intercept

This starts as follows:
President Donald Trump has weaponized the revolving door by appointing defense contractors and their lobbyists to key government positions as he seeks to rapidly expand the military budget and homeland security programs.
(...)
Personnel from major defense companies now occupy the highest ranks of the administration including cabinet members and political appointees charged with implementing the Trump agenda. At least 15 officials with financial ties to defense contractors have been either nominated or appointed so far, with potentially more industry names on the way as Trump has yet to nominate a variety of roles in the government, including Army and Navy secretaries.
I say. And my own inference from Trump's seeking "to rapidly expand the military budget and homeland security programs" is that one does so if one is preparing for major war. (And knowing a little more about Stephen Bannon (<-Wikipedia) - one of Trump's main assistants - only backs up that inference.)

Here is some more on Trump's military budget:

Defense firms have eagerly watched as Trump recently unveiled a budget calling for $54 billion in additional military spending next year, as well as an additional $30 billion for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security for this fiscal year, which ends on September 31. About $15.5 billion of the $30 billion is slated to be spent on new military equipment.

The spending spree will provide a brand new opportunity for defense lobbyists to get business for their clients. And the most effective lobbying generally involves contacting former colleagues in positions of power.

Yes indeed. And there is a considerable amount on various persons who got nominated or may be nominated, which I all skip but recommend to your interests.

This ends as follows (and compare this with item 1):

The Trump administration is the “military-industrial complex personified,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that while the administration is bringing arms industry officials into government, it is also demanding a massive increase in military spending and appears to be escalating conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

In short, the Trump proposals are an armsmaker’s dream come true,” he said.

I can only agree with Hartung, and this is a recommended article.

3. Newly Obtained Documents Prove: Key Claim of Snowden’s Accusers Is a Fraud

The third article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

For almost four years, a cottage industry of media conspiracists has devoted itself to accusing Edward Snowden of being a spy for either Russia and/or China at the time he took and then leaked documents from the National Security Agency. There has never been any evidence presented to substantiate this accusation.

In lieu of evidence, the propagators of this accusation have relied upon the defining tactic of tawdry conspiracists everywhere: relentless repetition of rumor and innuendo based on alleged inconsistencies until it spreads far enough through the media ecosystem to take on the appearance of being credible. In this case, there was one particular fiction — about where Snowden spent his first 11 days after arriving in Hong Kong — which took on particular significance for this group.

Yes indeed, and to the best of my knowledge all of this is quite correct. Also, I can add that, speaking for myself, I was immediately convinced that Snowden was honest, on the first day of learning about him, and I still am, but the former may have some to do with my rather abormal background and my reading, on the same day, a quite insane concoction of conspiracy theories and personal baloney on Edward Snowden by David Brookings, in The New York Times.

Here is some more by Greenwald:

They insist that Snowden, contrary to what he has always maintained, did not check into the Mira Hotel on May 21, 2013, the day after he arrived in Hong Kong. Instead, they assert, he checked-in only on June 1, which means Snowden has 11 “unaccounted-for” days from the time he arrived in Hong Kong until he met with journalists at the Mira in the beginning of June. They have repeatedly leveraged this Missing Eleven Days into the insinuation that Snowden used this time to work with his Russian and/or Chinese handlers in preparation for meeting the U.S. journalists in Hong Kong.

While such reckless conspiracy-mongering is often relegated to online fringes, this accusatory fable found its way to the nation’s mainstream journalistic venues: the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Yahoo News, Lawfare, Business Insider; these media conspiracists were subsequently joined by several former officials of the intelligence community now embedded in the pundit class in affirming this tale. These outlets have repeatedly laundered and thus sanctioned the tale of the Missing Eleven Days, despite its utter lack of any journalistic basis.

This is also quite correct according to my - meanwhile considerable - knowledge.
In the rest of this article Greenwald is refuting these conspiracy theorists. I leave the details - quite a lot - to your interests.

Here is Greenwald's general conclusion:

Newly obtained documents conclusively prove that the central tale invented by these Snowden-accusing commentators is a wholesale fabrication. These documents negate the edifice on which this entire fiction has been based from the start.

I agree, and this is a recommended article.

4. Proof Comey's Testimony Is a Turning Point in Trump's Presidency

The fourth article is by Heather Digby on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

On MSNBC’s Monday edition of “Hardball,” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius claimed that Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers was “a turning point” in the growing “Russia” scandal. At the time of the hearing I wouldn’t have thought so. Not that the testimony wasn’t dramatic. It was. Director Comey categorically denied that there was any evidence of President Trump’s inane accusation that President Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped, and confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation into possible “coordination” between Trump associates and Russian government actors over interference in the presidential election campaign.

But it’s not as if there hadn’t been extensive reporting about all of this already. This was no smoking gun. The hearing was significant in that it was the first time anyone in government has publicly acknowledged the investigation, which means that the calls for a special prosecutor and/or a bipartisan commission take on new urgency.

This is also all I am quoting from this article, with which I tend to agree, though that agreement again is in part due to my belief in some deep state, combined with my
belief that the deep state comprises top people of the FBI, the NSA and the CIA, who probably have come to a similar belief as I have, although their reasons probably differ from mine: Donald Trump is not sane enough to remain president.

Fore more see item 1 and the next item:

5. 'Morning Joe' Openly Calls on Republicans to Dump Trump

The fifth article is by Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:

This starts as follows, and is here mostly because one of the presenters of "Morning Joe" is Mika Brzezinski, who is the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is still alive, and who was (among other things) Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, who also,
already in the late 1960ies managed to predict the horrible role personal computers would play in security
[1], from the 2000s onwards:

"Morning Joe" spent Tuesday reviewing FBI Director James Comey's confirmation of a counterintelligence investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election and the precedent it sets for the GOP going forward. The hosts were, in a word, appalled.
(..)
Scarborough's message was simple: Stop waiting for Trump's presidential pivot and start putting country first. 

“If the Republican Party doesn’t start taking care of itself and stop making fools of themselves for a guy who is going to keep tweeting lies and nonsense—they can’t chase that around,” he concluded.

“They can’t defend the indefensible,” Mika Brzezinski remarked. “They can’t see what a sad and grave time this is for our country."

Incidentally, the "presidential pivot" is the rather insane idea that Trump (who is 70) may or will become "presidential" in some received sense - e.g. without continuous hardly sane Tweets - "eventually".

In any case, this is a widely seen TV-program that is for dumping Trump, indeed within 100 days of Trump's presidency.

6. The Composite Trump: Some Notes Toward Understanding Our President's Level of Sanity

The sixth and last article today is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones:

This has the following bit:

Let's roll the tape. Trump is vain. He's peculiarly unwilling to learn anything new. He feels endlessly persecuted. His attention span can be measured in minutes. He's paranoid over the slightest sign of disloyalty. He is vengeful. He demands constant attention. He makes up preposterous fictions to sustain his worldview and shield his ego from the slings and arrows of reality. He desperately wants to be liked by everyone. He's domineering. His personal relationships are almost entirely transactional. He never laughs. He can't stand people poking fun at him. He's often unable to control his emotional outbursts. And he likes his steaks really well done.

Does that mean he's unhinged? I dunno. No single one of these things is debilitating, but what happens when you put them all together?

This is here mainly because Kevin Drum is not a psychologist and I am (but I generally like Drum) and because it allows me to make a few observations on psychology and psychiatry:

First, Drum mentions no less than 14 quite odd personal characteristics of Donald Trump and correctly mentions that "[n]o single one of these things is debilitating, but what happens when you put them all together?"

But second, that is precisely how a diagnosis proceeds: In terms of observational empirical characteristics, that also are counted. And while any one of these characteristics - say: "[h]e makes up preposterous fictions to sustain his worldview" - may not be "debilitating", to have two or three of these - rather infrequent - characteristics makes it considerably more likely something is not right with the person who shows these characteristics.

And in fact the DSMs specify 9 characteristics that may lead to the diagnosis that someone who has them is megalomaniac (in psychiatrese: "has a narcissistic personality disorder" [2]), that I think are all mentioned in the above list (thougth not quite as specified in the DSMs), while insisting that anyone who has 5 out of these 9
characteristics
"has a narcissistic personality disorder".

Well... when I compared the 9 characteristics the DSMs list and compared these with Trump's behavior and sayings on video I concluded (as did quite a few professors of psychiatry or psychology) that he satisfies all 9.

This led to my agreeing with the diagnosis, that may not be called "diagnosis" according to the American Psychiatric Association [3], so I will say it is a professional opinion.

And indeed, given that the present president of the USA is vain, unwilling to learn, feels persecuted, has a very brief attention span, is paranoid over any sign of disloyalty, is vengeful, demands constant attention, makes up preposterous fictions, wants to be liked by everyone, is domineering, has only transactional and no personal relations, never laughs, can't stand people poking fun at him, and is unable to control his emotional outbursts (I copied mostly), how sane would you say the present president of the USA is?

I am merely asking (but know what I think).

------------------------
Notes

[1] In fact I have since 2012 arrived at the following conclusion: Personal computers - since around 2000 - are by far the best way to make all 7 billion people there are totally subservient - mostly without knowing it - to the secret services in their vicinities.

Since very few are seriously interested in computing, and the vast majority is both conformistic and also may be very happy to be abled to discriminate anybody who is not quite like them in the crudest and "anonymous" (anonymous for every ordinary user, but not for the secret services) way possible, I am quite pessimistic.

[2] I dislike psychiatrese, which also makes me believe that the present Wikipedia's entries on psychiatry are - anonymously, of course - controlled by psychiatrists, for even the ordinary and long existing English term "megalomania" has been deleted from the Wikipedia, in favor of the very recent, extremely long, and hard to understand "(grandiose) narcissistic personality disorder".

I think that is a quite stupid idea: The least that should be there are both the ordinary English term and its "explanation" by psychiatrists (that will be raher different in 10 years, and completely different in 50).

[3] The American Psychiatric Association did so mostly to insist on its own importance and on the importance of psychiatrists. It also was a ridiculous decision,
precisely because important politicians will refuse to be diagnosed by psychiatrists:
Since important politicians may be mad, and their madness may kill many, there must be some means to be able to at least discuss this. My own means is a very simple one: I propose not to say "diagnosis" but "professional opinion".


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